Monitoring their health

Krystle Wagner • Jan 10, 2019 at 2:00 PM

Local students are taking note of their heart rate and physical activity.

Since fall, students in Grand Haven Area Public Schools’ physical education classes have used heart rate monitors, which are used to motivate and encourage them to do their best during class, according to physical education teachers Laura Thompson and Scott Przystas.

The monitors, which students wear on their wrists, also provide educators with the ability to track student effort throughout the year, and reflect on the lessons to ensure children spend enough time in the moderate to vigorous physical activity zone.

After piloting a set of heart rate monitors last spring, elementary physical education instructors found that children were motivated to work harder when they could see their heart rate and how hard they were working, Thompson and Przystas said.

The Grand Haven school district has five classroom sets, and each set consists of 40 monitors. Each of the four elementary physical education teachers have a set, and the district has one set that is shared by secondary physical education teachers.

Upper-elementary school classes use the monitors regularly.

A classroom set costs about $5,000, which was paid by the district’s technology bond funds, according to Thompson and Przystas.

By using the monitors, Thompson and Przystas said they hope the students understand how various exercises impact their heart rate, assess their own efforts and develop healthy decision-making when it comes to making exercise part of their life.

Throughout their PE class, students can see what level their heart rate is in, which is shown in three colors — blue, yellow and red — on an overhead projector.

The light on the monitor also helps them keep track of their physical activity zone. However, instead of yellow, students see a purple light on their monitor.

As students wear the monitors, Thompson and Przystas said the children will make comments about their heart rate number or how long they’ve remained in the yellow zone. When they are in line for a drink of water, some run in place or do different exercises to keep their heart rate up, the PE teachers added.

Gracelyn Rademacher, 6, said they try to avoid the red zone “because that means you’re going way too fast.” Having a heart rate in the blue zone means you aren’t active enough, while being in the purple zone means you’re working at the right level, the first-grader explained.

“They’re super fun,” Rademacher said of the monitors.

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